Four years in St Andrews and I foolishly thought I could escape the metaphorical hospital trip that follows the Scandinavian Society’s infamous – in fact positively criminal – annual Crayfish Dinner. Alone the name sounds rude, particularly in regards to that ghastly aquiferous cockroach, the Crayfish, to which it is an homage. It is clear that the reviewer has had an enduring love-hate relationship with said cretinous crustaceans. The first Crayfish Dinner he attended, years ago, he woke up, face-first on the floor, with his pockets stuffed full of the hideous pink monstrosities. And each year they keep coming back – the hangover never ends! A tradition set in stone, and certainly not the healthiest of devotions.
I was placed on the President’s table, where two vicious Vikings (who shall remain unnamed) have always found it very amusing to attempt making the poor reviewer, myself, so plastered that I’d be unable to remember any of the details to write about – a mixed gesture, in parts honour and curse. It is no coincidence that in my four years, the dinner has been hosted in four different venues – and it certainly wasn’t down to spilt tea. Last year’s ‘dinner’ so horrified the naïve manager that we were given the boot shortly after ten, the event only having begun at half past seven.
The true criminal to blame is that vile liquid, the scourge of the Vikings, Aquavit. Traditionally, aquavit matures on a ship, having passed the equator line twice, before being ready for consumption. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make it any tastier. All it does is guarantee inebriation, and an absolutely cracking hangover the next day. The liberal quantities of that poison always ensure fiery singing and the bleary-eyed wobbling on the dancefloor as the night progresses. Don’t flirt with a bottle of Aquavit as it will dump you shortly afterwards – face-first on the floor.
Another strident factor was the security. Only in St Andrews do ‘elegant’ dinners need bouncers to control the diners themselves – and I am certain this is a trend proudly caused by the Scandinavian Society. Security was brisk – two high-vis strongmen flitted across the scene to pull down a particularly strident girl stomping on the table, or more liberal crayfish-hurlers scattered about the room. Their aim: keeping the attendees safe from themselves, evidence of the devil Aquavit unleashes within.
Having topped off my humiliation by putting on the idiotic conical hats everyone is meant to wear, I couldn’t help but overhear conversation on another table: Fearsome Florian had taken the table’s water jug, and upending it ceremoniously, poured it out: ‘Water is for the weak.’ Then, snatching a half-eaten bun from the mouth of bewildered reviewer Natasha Franks, he wagged his finger at her, scolding: ‘NO cheating.’
Though this year’s Crayfish Dinner was a hint more ‘civilised’ than previous ones – no girls found dancing naked in the bathrooms, or pleasant puke puddles found strewn across corners this year – it was still the habitual riot. Iron testimony to the Scandinavian Society’s polished credentials in providing an enduring headache, painfully felt across this reviewer’s four years at St Andrews. Scandinavian hospitality is measured in buckets of booze. It is an invitation hard to accept, yet absolutely impossible to refuse.